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11 Ways to Make Money Online Without Selling Anything

By Caroline Banton · November 10, 2022 · 10 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

11 Ways to Make Money Online Without Selling Anything

When you think about making money online, chances are, you visualize selling something, whether it’s beaded necklaces you make, electronics you don’t use anymore, or a cool product you cooked up. But there are many ways to make money without offering a product, which can eliminate a lot of barriers to entry, along with the hassles of order fulfillment and shipping.

It’s not a cinch, but if you have a clever idea or some expertise, you can make money online without selling anything. For example, if you have an Instagram account with loads of followers, you might earn cash by creating a YouTube channel sharing the secrets of your social media success.

Think about where your strengths and skills lie: Is it coding? Then you might consider building an app. Do you know how to reach out to people and coalesce them into an active, supportive community? Then you might succeed in building a membership website.

Ready to find out how to make money with a website without selling anything? There’s inspiration ahead.

Is It Possible to Make Money Online Without Selling a Product?

Fortunately, there are many ways to make passive income online without manufacturing and selling a product in the traditional sense. If you dread the idea of renting a warehouse or packing up and shipping items, this will be good news.

For example, many influencers on YouTube make money simply by providing informational videos that people find valuable. Once they have a following, they make money through YouTube ads that run on their channel. Did you know, for instance, that YouTuber Mr. Beast set a new high-earning record recently of $54 million? While that’s hardly a typical achievement, it does show that the sky is the limit, as the saying goes.

Beyond YouTube, there are plenty of other ideas for how to make money with a website without selling anything. You might translate your tech knowledge and experience into building an app, or you could create a blog based on your favorite hobby that resonates with a particular audience.

11 Ways You Can Make Money Without Selling Anything

Ready to dig into some specifics? From dropshipping to streaming, the following are 11 ways people make money online without actually manufacturing or selling products.

1. Start Dropshipping

Dropshipping is one way to make money with a website without selling anything. Dropshippers sell products to customers, but they do not own or stock them. For the dropship business model, a customer places an order, and the dropshipper forwards the order to the supplier for a fee. The supplier then takes care of the shipping.

In essence, the dropshipper is the middle man. You don’t need to buy any items or manufacture anything yourself. And it can help you bring in some cash: One recent survey showed that dropshippers earn almost $20 an hour.

Recommended: 11 Benefits of Having a Side Hustle

2. Launch a YouTube Channel

A YouTube channel can be lucrative once you have 1,000 subscribers. At that point, YouTubers can monetize their channel by accepting ads. How do you get 1,000 subscribers? By providing content that people want to see.

That could be showing off your cake decorating skills, your super cute Pomeranian puppy, or your ability to do your own taxes quickly and correctly. Choose a niche where you have expertise and create compelling content on that topic. Use clever headlines that will draw people to your channel, plus keywords to optimize them for YouTube searches and help you gain traction. Keep viewers engaged by producing a series of videos on a topic so that they continue to tune in.

Recommended: Can You Make a Living on Social Media?

3. Write a Blog or Podcast

Have ideas, intel, and opinions you’d like to share? Why not start a blog, which is similar to starting a YouTube channel. The cost of running a blog can be minimal, and it can be an exciting way to share your passions in life. You can create content on a niche topic that people are curious about and that you love. It could be travel, DIY advice, fashion, fitness, or finance.

If you are good, you can build a following. Once your following is big enough, companies will pay you to promote their products or services on your blog through ads and links. Brands may even sponsor you to write about them or invite you to write blogs for their own sites.

4. Create a Membership Website

If you find demand for your content, you could build a website for subscribers only and charge for the membership. The idea is to build a community of like-minded people who want to share knowledge and access exclusive content. A paid membership could offer videos, webinars, other educational products, and the ability to interact with other members.

Membership web-builder software can help you build a site and wrangle your followers, or you could use a third party to do it for you. The software allows you to register new members; process monthly dues, donations, and event payments; update member profiles; send emails to members about upcoming events, and send invites. A simple website builder will run from $20 to a few hundred dollars per month, and help you get your site up and running and hopefully growing.

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5. Try Freelance Work

You probably have had some work-from-home experience due to the pandemic. You might want to transition even more to remote work. Some careers can be transferred to the digital environment. For example, writers, teachers, designers, and coders can all learn how to make money from home. There are marketplaces for freelancers, such as Fiverr and Upwork, and you can establish a website of your own to pull in work.

There are also many job boards for freelancers, such as Flexjobs.com. Freelancers need to build a portfolio of work, which may require taking on lower-paying jobs at first as you work your way up.

Recommended: 15 Low-Cost Side Hustles

6. Become a Writer

Being a writer is an aspiration for many people, and there happens to be a huge market for website content. Many companies want to create informative blogs with SEO-optimized articles that will drive traffic to their websites. If you have expertise and knowledge in a niche area, you could write engaging articles for companies in that niche. Companies want ghostwriters, but there are also opportunities for bylined articles. Look for writing jobs on job boards like Flexjobs.com and Upwork.

7. Be a Product Tester

This is a fun one: You can make money online without selling by being a product tester. Brands often need people to try out their products to see how they rate with consumers. In return for their time and feedback, product testers may receive payment in the form of cash, merchandise, and gift cards.

Popular products for testing include toys, food, electronics, beauty products, household products, baby products, clothes, and websites. These gigs may pay about $25 an hour and can sometimes feel like play time.

You might also take surveys and provide feedback on marketing ideas online, as well. Sign up with a market research firm like I-Say by Ipsos, Opinion Outpost, and Branded Surveys to get started.

8. Accept Micropayments

Looking for more ways to make money online without selling stuff? Let’s say you write a blog that benefits a community. For example, you might be someone on the autism spectrum and blog about your experiences for a supportive audience. You can use a free app like “Buy Me a Coffee” to accept micropayments on your blog; this allows people who want to show their appreciation to send you a bit of money. Readers click on a widget on your blog to donate a few dollars to your site.

9. Set Donation Requests

One step up from accepting micropayments is to request donations directly. An example is Wikipedia, which intermittently asks its visitors to donate to fund the site’s research. Another example is virtual tip jars that appear on websites. Basically, it’s a way to monetize a website. You can collect feedback from engaged users at the same time to better understand what visitors would like to see on your site.

10. Create an App

Even if you are not a coder or app developer, you might have a great idea for an app that would make people’s lives simpler, better, or just more fun. Once you have an idea, a market that you’re targeting, and a brand concept, you can hire an app creator to do the coding for you. Once you have the app, add it to the App Store or Google Play. Start with a free app, and if it is a success, you can offer add-ons or premium features for a fee.

Recommended: How to Pay for Coding Bootcamps

11. Monetize a Twitch Channel

Chances are, you’ve heard of Twitch, the streaming platform that has expanded from gaming to a variety of content types, such as sports and entertainment. Still, gaming is its heartbeat, and Twitch streamers can monetize their love for the platform by sharing their gameplay with fans and subscribers who can hear and watch them live.

Streamers can gain a sizable following by providing consistent entertainment, and they can then sell products and Twitch ads. They can also land brand sponsorships, obtain fan donations, and sell subscriptions. Of course, not everyone will be a success at this, but those with the right skills and personality can thrive. For those who gain a real following, earnings can be in the $3,000 to $5,000 a month range if working 40 hours a week.

How Making Money Online Can Help You on Your Financial Journey

You might not become a billionaire by choosing an online gig, but you can certainly supplement your day job or help with your college expenses. Making money online is flexible, and you can leverage your expertise and your niche. Start small and see where it leads.

Recommended: How to Earn Residual Income

The Takeaway

How to make money online without selling anything comes down to creative thinking and a will to experiment. It’s actually a very accessible marketplace for anyone; you can avoid the typical startup costs en route to making a profit. Plus, you can work from home and tap your particular skills, whether that means creating fitness videos or developing an app.

3 Money Tips

  1. When you overdraft your checking account, you’ll likely pay a non-sufficient fund fee of, say, $35. Look into linking a savings account to your checking account as a backup to avoid that, or shop around for an online bank that doesn’t charge you for overdrafting.
  2. If you’re faced with debt and wondering which kind to pay off first, it can be smart to prioritize high-interest debt first. For many people, this means their credit card debt; rates have recently been climbing into the double-digit range, so try to eliminate that ASAP.
  3. When you feel the urge to buy something that isn’t in your budget, try the 30-day rule. Make a note of the item in your calendar for 30 days into the future. When the date rolls around, there’s a good chance the “gotta have it” feeling will have subsided.
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Is it hard to make money online?

How to make money online without selling products is not difficult as long as you pick the right niche. It helps to choose an activity where you have an interest and skills. You also need to be creative if you want to scale. Some tenacity and determination will help when you experience a lull or want to get to the next level and grow organically.

What is a great way to learn skills to make money?

There are so many online and offline resources where you can learn skills. If you are interested in programming, you can learn coding languages online. If you are interested in marketing, you can take a course and get certified in Google Analytics and Google Ads. YouTube and webinars can help you train up; just do your research and make sure the so-called expert has solid credentials.

Do donation requests work?

Donation requests work if people value what you are doing. There are quite a few scams out there, and people are becoming more wary. However, if you can establish a following and provide content of value, you’re onto something. The trick is to engage people by connecting them to a community that means something to them.

Photo credit: iStock/Eva-Katalin

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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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